Health care prices in the Milwaukee metro area were the fourth-highest in the nation in 2016, according to a new report from the Health Care Cost Institute.
The study found health care prices in the Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis area were 17 percent above the national average, based on health claims from four large national insurers. Prices in Green Bay were 14 percent above the national average, the fifth highest in the nation.
The top metro areas with health care prices that were higher than the national average included:
- Anchorage, Alaska, where prices were 65 percent above the national average
- San Jose, California (65 percent)
- San Francisco (49 percent)
- Milwaukee (17 percent)
- Green Bay (14 percent)
The study defined prices as the total payment from both the insurer and the patient to a health care provider.
A recent BizTimes Milwaukee cover story examined factors contributing to high health care costs in Wisconsin, including market consolidation, which has created an environment that skews in favor of providers versus insurers. Area health care providers, however, push back on the idea that consolidation is a driver of cost; instead, they say it can create more efficiencies and allow for better care coordination.
The new HCCI report offers a complicated picture of health care prices in Milwaukee and Green Bay.
In Milwaukee, outpatient prices (those associated with services that do not require an overnight stay or hospitalization) were 4 percent lower than the national average, and inpatient prices matched the national average. Yet, prices for professional services, such as preventative visits and administered drugs, were 38 percent higher than the national average.
Similarly in Green Bay, inpatient and outpatient prices were 16 percent and 7 percent below the national average, respectively, but professional prices were 43 percent higher than the national average.
Appleton’s prices were 3 percent below the national average, with its inpatient and outpatient prices 34 percent and 32 percent lower than the national average, respectively.
The HCCI report said, regardless of their relation to the national average, health care prices were dramatically more expensive in 2016 than in they were in 2012 nearly everywhere in the country.
Milwaukee saw a 12 percent price level growth rate since 2012, according to the report. Green Bay’s price levels grew by 16 percent in that same time frame.
The report, which was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, analyzed health claims data from Aetna, Humana, UnitedHealthcare and Kaiser Permanente.
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